In January of 1933, Germany formed a new government, with Adolf Hitler at the helm. Hitler soon took control of the country with the help of the National Socialist Party, and life in Germany would never be the same. A most devastating era during his reign, known as the Holocaust, was a time of control, terror, and death. There were many ways in which Hitler and his associates tried to accomplish their goal of annihilating the Jews and their heritage. One of the strategies used by the Nazis to control and destroy the Jews was through music. The Nazis used music as a propaganda and control tool to reach the people and put their plan into action.
Hitler and his men used music in many ways in order to pursue the plan of Jewish annihilation. Some of the techniques were planned and orchestrated, and others happened by chance but were successful so they continued their use. By emphasizing the importance of German classical composers, the Nazis were able to show the Germans how cultured and sophisticated the German people were. The Kulturbund, a cultural group for the Jews, was a major source of control for the Nazis (Goldsmith 54). It had benefits for the Jews also, but overall the Kulturbund was a way to monitor the Jews while appeasing them somewhat. Step by step, Hitler was able to eliminate all the artistic freedoms from the Jews, thereby breaking their spirit and gaining control.
The Jewish communities in Germany were very active in the cultural scene. Germany was considered to be culturally diverse: "By the end of the eighteenth century, Germany was established as the land of poets and philosophers' for which German culture is still renowned-(Fulbrook 95). Classical music in the eighteenth century is a history in German heritage: Johann Sebastian Bach, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Amadeus Mozart, to name a few. Richard Wagner, one of Hitler's favorite composers, stated that art was the only way to restore wholeness to the human condition (Sheehan 838).